Orange Flower Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance Around the World

Though the symbolism associated with colors and flowers may change over time, there’s one fact that remains: the color orange provokes a reaction. Sometimes sacred, sometimes royal, occasionally cautionary, but always bold — orange always makes a statement. Orange flowers are no different. Read on to learn about the history behind this dynamic color and the meaning and symbolism of orange flowers that you can use to send messages to those you care about.


The Meaning & Symbolism of Orange Flowers – The Essentials

The color orange has a range of meanings across cultures and time. Orange flowers may symbolize excitement, joy, positivity, passion, energy, and enthusiasm. To the Victorians, an orange rose sent the message of fascination and desire, while an orange lily meant strong dislike. Always, orange signifies strong emotions and sends a dynamic message.


The Color Orange

The Color Orange

Throughout human history, the color orange has been associated with strong emotions of one type or another. The color has a long, rich history; it’s the only color named for itself. It’s one of the only English words that stands alone (no, tangerine isn’t exactly the same). Indeed, the word “orange” comes from, and means, the popular citrus fruit.

The history of the color orange dates back through millennia and is one of the earliest pigments humans used to create art. Ancient Egyptians used a (very toxic) mineral called realgar to make orange pigment for tomb decoration, as did the ancient Chinese. The ancient Romans used the mineral orpiment to make orange pigment. You can see the golden-yellowish paint in illuminated Medieval manuscripts.

The Color Orange in Historical Europe

In historical Europe, the color was often associated with abundance and fertility. Perhaps this is because many fruits, vegetables, and leaves ripen to an orange hue. Because of this symbolism, paintings of the harvest goddess Pomona often depict her wearing orange robes. And in the U.S., the Thanksgiving holiday, with its focus on abundant foods, is dominated by orange decor.

But the color didn’t even have a name in Europe until the 1500s, when oranges were brought from the East. The color was named after the fruit in several European languages.

Of course, artists have used the color orange to great effect over the centuries. Van Gogh and Toulous-Lautrec were fans, as was Monet, who often used orange to significant effect in his sunsets.

Orange and Spirituality

Orange has different meanings across cultures, however. In many parts of Asia, orange has a spiritual component. Many Buddhist monks wear orange robes, and orange represents divinity, fire, and cleansing purity to Hindus.

Of course, the color is eye-catching and attention-grabbing, which is often associated with caution or safety. In many cultures, orange is the color of choice for safety gear (think traffic cones). In the U.S., it’s also used on prison uniforms, thanks to its ability to stand out.

Orange and The Seasons

We also tend to associate orange with certain seasons. In the U.S., there’s a strong association between autumn and orange. Fall leaves, pumpkins, and orange mums are all familiar symbols of the fall season.

Orange flowers elicit strong feelings and emotions as well. No matter what one’s religion or cultural background, the color is powerful and packs a metaphorical punch. Read on to learn more about orange flowers.


About Orange Flowers

About Orange Flowers

While orange flowers aren’t the most common colors in the floral world — that honor most likely goes to green, brown, white, yellow, and pink blossoms. However, there’s no definitive database that contains a listing of each flower in existence.

Orange flowers grow across the continents, both in temperate and tropical zones. A search of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin results in more than 735 plant species that bloom in shades of orange.

But when it comes to commonly grown orange flowers in gardens and used in floral shops, there are about 60 species of orange blossoms that come to the forefront.

The Science Behind Orange Flowers

What, exactly, causes a plant to produce orange flowers? It’s all about the pigments. Plant pigments contain different proportions of three types of chemical compounds: anthocyanins, carotenoids, and betalains. These compounds — and other factors like soil acidity and cell shape — all influence the hues that we see when we look at flowers.

For instance, anthocyanins are type of flavonoid chemicals that produce colors ranging from orange and red to blue. There are over 300 naturally occurring anthocyanins. While they look colorless to humans, they absorb light in a way that makes them visible to insects, helping to attract pollinators.

Carotenoids, a type of terpenoid chemical, are also responsible for orange tones. Known as carotenes, these pigments are responsible for the orange color of carrots, as well as many flowers. The third type of pigment, betalains, is less common, but still found in some flowers.


The Cultural Significance of Orange Flowers in Ancient Egypt and Greece

The Cultural Significance of Orange Flowers in Ancient Egypt and Greece

In ancient times, orange played an important role in many cultures and traditions. To the ancient Egyptians, the color was used to decorate tombs and commemorate the dead. While minerals were used to make pigments for painting, saffflowers were used to tint fabric.

Safflowers (Carthamus tinctorius) bloomed with orange, red, and yellow blossoms that were often used to make colorful dyes. Historical evidence from the 12th century indicates that safflower dye was used to color shrouds for mummification. Safflower garlands were found wrapped around mummies and in pharaohs’ tombs, including the most famous tomb of all: that of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

But the flowers held more significance to these ancient peoples than their usefulness as a dye source. Some shrouds have been found with safflowers embroidered on them as a design. Safflower seeds have been found as temple offerings, and oil from the plants was used as a medicinal treatment for insect bites and stings.

Orange Flower Meaning in Ancient Greece

To the ancient Greeks, flowers often played an important role in mythology. As far as orange flowers, the crocus — which blooms in shades of orange, yellow, white, and purple — has its own role in legend.

As one of the first flowers to appear in spring, the crocus has long been associated with hope and cheerfulness. In Greek mythology as written by the physician Galen, Crocus was a companion of Hermes, the god of wealth, luck, fertility, and travel, among other things.

One tragic day, Hermes was playing a game of discus and accidentally killed Crocus. As Hermes mourned the loss of his beloved companion, he turned Crocus into a flower so he would bloom again in the spring. The flowers are thus associated with rebirth, joy, and hope that life will return.


Orange Flower Meaning in Victorian Times

Orange Flowers in Victorian Times

During the Victorian era, societal customs meant that expressions of specific emotions and feelings were taboo, at least when spoken out loud. These restrictive (some would say repressive) customs meant that it was hard for people, especially members of the upper class, to simply come out and say how they felt.

Orange Flower Meaning in Floriography

Instead, many adopted a secret, coded language: the language of flowers. Known as floriography, the Victorians adopted flower language from the Ottoman Empire. Here, women living in harems would often use gifts of flowers to send rhyming messages to each other in a game known as selam.

The practice spread to Europe in the 18th century, and soon became a popular trend. It was especially welcomed by young couples who were courting, as gifts of flowers known as tussiemussies or nosegays allowed them to send coded messages to one another.

In the Victorian language of flowers, different types of blossoms carry different meanings. Color matters, as well. For example, while a red rose may mean romantic love, an orange love may symbolize pride, friendship, and fascination. And while a white lily might mean “it’s heavenly to be with you,” an orange lily sent a message of hatred. Yet tiger lilies symbolized wealth and pride!

An orange marigold could send a message of jealousy or even grief. But an orange sunflower was associated with adoration, and an orange zinnia meant one was thinking of absent friends.

Floriography is a complex and fascinating language. It allowed people to express nuanced emotions without saying a word out loud.


Orange Flower Meaning and Hanakotoba

Orange Flowers and Hanakotoba

The Ottomans and the Victorians weren’t the only cultures with flower languages. In Japan, the tradition of Floriography known as hanakotoba has been around for centuries.

It’s also a complex language, with different flowers and colors associated with nuanced meanings. For instance, some orange flowers in hanakotoba tradition include orange Gerbera daises, which send a message of patience, or can also say “you are my sunshine.”

An orange crocus means youth, gladness, and cheer. An orange chrysanthemum also sends a cheerful message, and can say “you’re a great friend.” As in Victorian floriography, orange lilies also symbolize hatred in hanakotoba.


What do Orange Flowers Mean Spiritually?

What do Orange Flowers Mean Spiritually?

Orange flowers have different significance across religions and cultures. For Buddhists, orange flowers are often used to make garlands, which are worn or offered at shrines or placed on household altars. Of course, they’re not meant to last; in the Buddhist tradition, flowers symbolize impermanence. One day they are sweet and fresh, and the next, they’re withered. Orange ts are a commonly used flower in these offerings.

This may stem back to the early availability of saffron flowers to create the orange dye, which was used to color practitioners’ garments. The color is still associated with perfection, the quest for knowledge, and illumination.

Orange Flower Meaning in Hinduism

Orange marigolds also play a role in Hinduism. They symbolize the sun, life, brightness, and positive energy. These cheerful flowers are often used in weddings, to bring luck, and hung in garlands in the home for protection.

In Hindu mythology, other orange flowers have meaning. One such flower is the noon flower, or Pentapetes phoenicea. This orange-red blossom blooms during mid-day, when the sun is high in the sky. Thus, it’s associated with the sun god, who is said to glow like the flower.

But the color orange itself has special significance, which is why orange flowers like marigolds and calendula are so important. The color is associated with renunciation, so offering orange flowers to the gods is a sign of surrendering one’s will to the divine. It’s also associated with overcoming obstacles, as well as to Lord Vishnu and the Goddess Lakshmi. The god Krishna is often depicted as wearing orange or yellow-orange robes. Today, holy practitioners still wear orange robes.

To the followers of Confucianism, the color orange is associated with transformation. In this spiritual tradition, existence is organized by two opposing yet complementary principles: the active or yang, and the passive or yin. Along these lines, the colors red and yellow — fire and light, sensuality and spirituality — are also seemingly opposed but really working in harmony. Together, these colors make orange.

Orange Flower Meaning and Symbolism in Christianity

Orange plays a role in Christianity, as well. The color is often associated with strength and endurance. As in Confucianism, the combination of red — or passion — is complemented by the wisdom of yellow, thus creating orange.


Orange Flower Meaning in Art & Literature

Through the centuries, orange flowers have blossomed in works by well-known artists. Take, for instance, Renoir’s Chrysanthemums series. Painted in the 1880s, these paintings feature a lovely arrangement of mums in various shades of orange, from deep fiery almost red to pale peach.

Gustav Klimt often painted orange flowers, such as 1907’s Baurengarten and Baurengarten sit Sonnenblumen. Then there’s Georgia O’Keefe’s Canna Red and Orange and Oriental Poppies, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (which the artist wanted to be framed in orange), and Warhol’s Flowers series.


The Meaning & Symbolism of Orange Flowers Today

Orange flowers have been associated with a wide diversity of meanings over time, from the bright divinity of the Hindu sun god to the Victorian’s association between lilies and hatred. But regardless of cultural background, the color packs an emotional punch.

Overall, however, orange is primarily associated with positivity. Across cultures, with some exceptions, of course, orange flowers today are often associated with:

  • Light, warmth, and the sun
  • Abundance and wealth
  • Joy and happiness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fascination
  • Divinity
  • Rebirth and renewal
  • Hope and positivity
  • Congratulations
  • Accomplishment
  • Energy
  • Amusement

The Most Suitable Gifting Occasions & Uses of Orange Flowers

The Most Suitable Gifting Occasions & Uses of Orange Flowers

Thanks to its many positive associations, orange flowers are the perfect choice to give in celebratory floral gifts. From happy birthday wishes to congratulations and graduation bouquets, this warm color is a great choice when you wish someone well.

It’s also a good choice when you want to cheer someone up, tell them to “get well soon,” say “thanks for being a friend,” or simply to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Seasonal gifting is a perfect time to include orange flowers. In spring, the color signifies the sun, rebirth, and enthusiasm. In the fall, the warmth gives a cozy feel and calls to mind holidays such as Thanksgiving, with its focus on abundance.


Alstroemeria

Orange Alstroemeria flower meaning and symbolism

Alstroemeria is a symbol of friendship and devotion. Gifting these lovely blossoms is the perfect way to let a friend know you care or to tell someone you’re devoted to them. Alstroemeria also signifies prosperity, making them an excellent choice for a congratulations bouquet or a floral gift to a new graduate.

Amaryllis

Orange Amaryllis flower meaning

The amaryllis has a rich history, imbued with meaning. Their large, attention-grabbing flowers are a great way to say, “you’re a splendid beauty.” Amaryllis also signifies pride, making them a great choice for congratulations on an accomplishment. In the language of flowers, these spring bloomers also stand for “pastoral poetry” in a celebration of nature.

Orange Begonia

Orange Begonia flower meaning

Orange begonias add warmth and cheer to any room. Historically, in floriography, begonias send a cautionary message of “beware.” But today, these happy flowers are a symbol of thanks and gratitude. Gift them to someone when you want to say “thank you,” or when you want to send messages of wealth and prosperity.

Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise symbolism

The lovely bird of paradise or strelitzia adds a tropical flair to any setting. Given their eye-catching looks, you won’t be surprised to find that they symbolize “magnificence.” They’re also associated with faithfulness and devotion, making them an ideal anniversary gift. In fact, they’re the official flower of the ninth wedding anniversary.

Butterfly Weed

Orange Butterfly Weed meaning

With its closers of orange and yellow blooms, these stunning perennials bring butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators to the garden in droves. Somewhat paradoxically, in the language of flowers, butterfly weed meant “let me go.” Today, however, these cheerful flowers add light and color to any bouquet.

California Poppy

California Poppy symbolism

The California poppy or flame flower adds a bold, natural look to any floral gift. In floriography, these orange flowers say “do not refuse me!” and let them know you’re serious about your intentions. Poppies also symbolize success, so use them to say congratulations. Poppies are the birth flower for August and the ninth anniversary.

Carnations

Orange Carnation flower meaning

The ever-popular carnation has many meanings in floriography, from romantic love to motherly love to luck and prosperity, depending on color. Orange carnations, however, symbolize happiness, enthusiasm, joy, and spontaneity. They’re a perfect addition to floral gifts for happy occasions and are the birth flower for January and the first anniversary.

Chrysanthemums

Orange Chrysanthemums meaning

In Chinese culture, mums are used for remembrance and mourning, while in Western cultures they symbolize long life and happiness and are often used in friendship gifts. In the U.S., orange mums are associated with warmth, coziness, fall, and Thanksgiving, and are the birth flower for November and the 13th wedding anniversary.

Cockscomb

Orange Cockscomb flower meaning

The attention-grabbing cockscomb certainly has a singular appearance. Perhaps that’s why in the language of flowers, the cockscomb stands for singularity. It’s a great choice to let someone know you appreciate their unique qualities!

Coreopsis

Orange Coreopsis flower meaning

In floriography, coreopsis symbolizes cheer and happiness. This orange flower sends the message of “love at first sight,” making it a perfect addition to bouquets for that special someone. Coreopsis also means “always cheerful,” so it’s an excellent flower to add to thank you or get well soon floral gifts.

Cosmos

Orange Cosmos flower meaning

With its bright orange petals and delicate foliage, it’s no surprise that the tall, graceful cosmos stands for beauty, peace, and harmony. It sends the message of focus on “all the joys that life and love bring.” It’s a universally positive blossom and appropriate any time you want to express peace, happiness, and joy. Cosmos are the birth flower for October and the second anniversary.

Crocus

Orange Crocus flower meaning

As the harbinger of spring, the crocus is associated with hope, rebirth, new beginnings, and fresh starts. Add orange crocus flowers to gifts for those at a crossroads or transition of life, such as graduation, a new job, a move, or a new baby. In floriography, the crocus also symbolizes youth, cheer, and gladness.

Dahlia

Orange Dahlia flower meaning

The stunning orange dahlia is truly a show stopper, especially in the dinner plate size, which can reach up to 10 inches in diameter. They’re also an elegant flower that symbolizes good taste and dignity. A gift of dahlias is appropriate when thanking a mentor, boss, or parent or sending a message that you appreciate someone’s strength and grace. Dahlias are the 14th-anniversary flower.

Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisies

Daisies impart a message of beauty and innocence and are the birth flower for April. But orange Gerbera daisies add cheer and joy. These bright flowers are so happy, they can’t help but make you smile when you see them. Give orange Gerberas to say “you are my sunshine” or to celebrate the fifth anniversary.

Iris

Orange Iris flower meaning

The stately iris symbolizes wisdom, faith, and hope. It’s also a symbol of friendship. A gift of orange iris flowers says, “your friendship is so important to me.” Iris flowers are traditionally given on the 25th anniversary.

Lantana

Orange Lantana flower meaning

With their clusters of tiny blossoms, sweet-smelling lantana adds a bright, tropical look to floral gifts. Orange lantana is also associated with rigor, making them a natural choice for bouquets awarding hard work, a promotion, or an accomplishment.

Marigolds

Orange Marigold flower meaning

Orange marigolds play a role in many Eastern spiritual traditions. They’re often associated with protection, the sun, brightness, positivity, and luck. In the Victorian language of flowers, they had another meaning: grief and jealousy. Today, these happy flowers add a bright touch to any bouquet and are a birth flower for October. For more, see our essential guide to everything you need to know about how to grow Marigolds.

Mexican Sunflowers

Mexican Sunflowers

With their bright orange and yellow faces, the Mexican sunflower stands for faith, loyalty, and adoration with their bright orange and yellow faces. They were a favorite of ancient Aztec royalty, as the flowers played an important role in spiritual practice and were strongly associated with the sun god.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

The edible nasturtium is as attractive as it is delicious. In Victorian times, this deep orange flower was used to send messages of patriotism. It was also associated with victory in battle, making it a perfect choice for floral gifts celebrating accomplishments.

Orange Lilies

Orange Lilies

In the Victorian language of flowers, the orange lily signified hatred. But tiger lilies, on the other hand, were associated with pride and wealth. Today, you can send these lovely orange flowers when you want to offer congratulations or wish someone good luck.

Orange Pansies

Orange Pansies

Delicate pansies are tougher than they look; these little flowers often bloom when it’s still cold outside. Pansies stand for memories, laughter, and merriment. They’re a great way to say, “think of me!”

Orange Roses

Orange Roses

The relatively rare orange rose sends a complex message and can be used to express fascination, pride, and enthusiasm. That makes them an excellent choice to say congratulations or even to let someone know you find them interesting. Roses are the 15th-anniversary flower.

Orange Wallflowers

Orange Wallflowers

The wallflower or Erysimum has the traditional meaning of fidelity. Throughout European history, these orange and rust-colored blossoms were often exchanged between lovers to show devotion. They also carry the connotation of being a bit shy.

Plumeria

Plumeria

The plumeria or frangipani is perhaps known for its luscious sweet fragrance. The flowers also symbolize welcome, wealth, and support. Give these lovely orange flowers to someone when you want to show them that you’re on their side.

Ranunculus

Ranunculus

The picture-ready ranunculus is a favorite wedding flower and is often used to celebrate the birth of a child. The orange ranunculus carries the meaning of charm and attractiveness. A gift of these cheerful blossoms can help lighten anyone’s mood and help them feel better.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

Rhododendrons carry many complex meanings, from beauty to warning to appreciation and success. Orange rhododendrons specifically symbolize joy, healing, health, energy, and power. They’re a great way to say congratulations on a job well done or to wish someone luck.

Snapdragon

Snapdragon

Snapdragon’s symbolize grace, strength, protection, luck, and deception. The elegant, upright snapdragon has held many meanings over the years. Orange snapdragons are associated with excitement and positivity and are an excellent choice for graduates, birthdays, or congratulations.

Star of Bethlehem

Star of Bethlehem

As the name suggests, Star of Bethlehem flowers are linked to Christianity and symbolize the birth of Christ. Orange blossoms are also associated with warmth, friendship, joy, and happiness. These delicate flowers add a sweet fragrance to gifts for almost any occasion.

Tulips

Tulips

The always-popular tulip carries a range of symbolic meanings, depending on color. Orange tulips are associated specifically with happiness and excitement, but they also signify a special relationship between two people that are based on trust and understanding. Gift orange tulips to those with whom you share a special connection.

Zinnia

Zinnia

In the language of flowers, a gift of zinnias says, “I miss you” and “I’m thinking of you, absent friend.” They also symbolize lasting affection, making them a perfect choice for those you care about. What’s more, orange zinnia further signifies power, ambition, drive, success, and family bonds.


Orange Flower Meaning – The Final Word

Orange flowers grow in many shapes, sizes, and hues. They also carry a range of symbolic meanings across cultures and times. But one thing is for certain: orange flowers catch the eye and make a statement. When you want to send a message, orange blossoms are always an impactful choice.


Author

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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